PREVIEW: City riders seek a fast start to their Championship campaign

Paul Starke (left) and Ulrich Ostergaard will be in action for Panthers against Redcar.
Paul Starke (left) and Ulrich Ostergaard will be in action for Panthers against Redcar.
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Team boss Carl Johnson insists a winning start to the SGB Championship campaign is essential for Peterborough Panthers today (April 15).

The city team entertain Redcar Bears in their league opener at the East of England Arena (5pm).

Panthers asset Ben Barker rides for Redcar at the Showground.

Panthers asset Ben Barker rides for Redcar at the Showground.

They have been warned to brace themselves for a tough test, but Johnson has stressed the need to put points on the board.

He said: “Every single meeting is important in such a short season with only 20 league fixtures in total.

“We need to get off to a good start on our track and start to build some momentum.

“We’ve started the season pretty well in the SGB Championship Shield and hopefully we can take that form into the league.

“Redcar were beaten heavily at Scunthorpe in their only meeting so far, but they are capable of doing well at our place and we have to except a difficult night.

“We accept we may be run close at home at times, but we also feel we have a line-up capable of picking up points on the road and that can serve us well during the season.”

Panthers are without Danish ace Michael Palm Toft after he suffered an ankle injury in a Thursday crash when representing Leicester in the SGB Premiership.

Paul Starke, a rider who helped the club to Fours and KO Cup glory last season, has been drafted in a guest. He now races for Glasgow this season.

New rules for this season mean a club is now entitled to bring in a guest when having any of their top three riders missing. Palm Toft is third in the Panthers averages behind Scott Nicholls and Ulrich Ostergaard.

Visitors Redcar are spearheaded by number one Ben Barker, who is now an asset of Panthers. Returning Czech rider Matej Kus is another big-hitter in the Bears line-up which also features a strong reserve combination of German racer Tobias Busch and Dutch ace Theo Pijper.

Danish brothers Mikkel B and Jonas B Andersen feature in the middle order. The former is a newcomer to these shores along with Australian prospect Jordan Stewart.

TEAMS

PANTHERS: 1 Scott Nicholls, 2 Emil Grondal, 3 Nike Lunna, 4 Michael Palm Toft, 5 Ulrich Ostergaard, 6 Tom Bacon 7 Simon Lambert.

REDCAR: 1 Ben Barker, 2 Jordan Stewart, 3 Jonas B. Andersen, 4 Mikkel B. Andersen, 5 Matej Kus, 6 Tobias Busch, 7 Theo Pijper.